New program for Maple Ridge students, grades 6-7

Travelling Tuesdays will allow kids to see the real world

The Wheelhouse is will be the latest choice in education in the local school district.

Julie Hearn, a teacher at Alouette elementary, pitched her idea for a new year-long program for Grade 6 and 7 students that will frequently take them out of the traditional classroom setting.

Field study days, called Traveling Tuesdays, will provide students regular opportunities to explore and connect with their community.

“Students in this program take action in their community, develop greater self-confidence and have a strong sense of care for their classmates and school,” Hearn wrote in the course synopsis.

She chose the name and said it applies to both the area where a batsman can hit their favourite pitch, or the part of a sailboat “where you stand, take the helm and steer the ship.”

Hearn said the course is not “teacher-centric,” where the educator’s primary purpose is to deliver content. Instead, students will do field research, group projects, independent activities and inquiry learning – the goal being to create lifelong learning attributes.

Grading will be designed to create self-assessment skills in students, and there will be an emphasis on learning showcases – open galley-style evenings when students share projects and portfolios.

Presenting their showcases forces students to think: “I have to actually learn something to be able to stand at this table,” said Hearn.

Tech-supported education and learning through play are other central concepts to The Wheelhouse.

Another unique aspect of the Wheelhouse will be an annual Big Idea, which will guide student learning. For the first year, 2013-2014, the Big Idea will be “What makes a good global citizen?”

Trustees noted that with waiting lists for the environmental school and French immersion, The Wheelhouse is sure to be popular with parents.

Based on Hearn’s presentation and a recommendation from senior staff, trustees approved of the Wheelhouse for the next school year.